Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date
Josh Harrison, infielder for the 2011-18 Pirates. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Cincinnati. Harrison batted .351 in 33 games at short-season ball, then finished his first season in Low-A. In 2009, he hit .337 in 79 games at Low-A, then moved up to High-A for 18 games. The Pirates acquired him in July of 2009 as part of a five-player trade that included Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow going to Chicago. Harrison finished the 2009 season in High-A, hitting .270 in 34 games after the deal. He finished the season with 30 stolen bases. In 2010, he spent the season at Double-A Altoona, where he batted .300 with 33 doubles, 19 steals and 75 RBIs. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season and batted .330 in 22 games. He began the 2011 season in Triple-A, hitting .310 with an .826 OPS in 62 games. Harrison debuted with the Pirates in 2011 and hit .272 in 65 games as a rookie. He was with the Pirates for all of 2012 and hit .233 in 104 games, while seeing time at six different positions. He split 2013 between the majors and Triple-A, getting 95 plate appearances in 60 big league games. His .699 OPS that year was the best of his first three seasons in the majors. Harrison had a breakout season in 2014 in which he made the All-Star team and finished ninth in the National League MVP voting. He batted .315, with 38 doubles, seven triples, 13 homers and 18 stolen bases, while scoring 77 runs. He started games at five positions, including 20+ starts at third base, right field and left field.
In 2015, Harrison split most of his time between second base and third base, hitting .287 in 114 games. He became the everyday second baseman in 2016 and batted .283 in 131 games, while stealing 19 bases, which set a career high. He low walk rate and limited home run power kept him at a .699 OPS, despite the high average. He was an All-Star for the second time in 2017 when he hit .272 in 128 games and set a career best with 16 homers. His 28 walks that season also stands as a career high, and he reached base 23 times via hit-by-pitch. A broken hand caused him to miss a large part of 2018. He batted .250 in 97 games, with a .656 OPS. In 2019, he signed with the Detroit Tigers and had a rough season, playing just 36 games, while batting .175 with one homer. He signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but he was released in July without playing a game. Harrison signed with the Washington Nationals and hit .278 in 33 games. Through late June in 2021, he was hitting .271 in 62 games for the Nationals, seeing most of his playing time at second base, though he’s played four other positions as well. In his eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Harrison was a .277/.317/.408 hitter in 842 games, with 52 homers, 269 RBIs, 363 runs scored and 75 steals. He made 352 starts at second base and 207 at third base, splitting the rest of his time between shortstop and the corner outfield spots.
John Bowker, outfielder/first baseman for the 2010-11 Pirates. Bowker was a third round pick in the 2004 draft by the San Francisco Giants out of Cal State University Long Beach. He started out his career great, putting together a 1.046 OPS in 41 games at short-season ball. He skipped to High-A, playing in the high offense environment of San Jose in the California League, where his .733 OPS was well below league/team average. He returned to San Jose in 2006 and made very little progress, posting a .762 OPS, though he was basically league average (.763 OPS) for the season. Bowker moved up to Double-A in 2007, playing in the Eastern League, where he hit .307 with 35 doubles, 22 homers and 90 RBIs. He made it to the majors early in 2008 with very little Triple-A time, hitting .255 with ten homers and 43 RBIs in 111 games as a rookie for the Giants. He began 2009 in the minors, getting called up two different times (July/September) for a total of 31 games with a .194 average, two homers and seven RBIs. He made the Giants Opening Day roster in 2010, playing 41 games with a .207 average, three homers and eight RBIs, before being sent down in the beginning of June. The Pirates acquired Bowker at the trade deadline that year, along with pitcher Joe Martinez, in exchange for veteran reliever Javier Lopez. The Pirates sent him to Triple-A, where he hit .319 in 25 games, earning a September call-up in which he batted .232 in 26 games. He spent most of 2011 in Triple-A, where he batted .306 with 15 homers and 76 RBIs in 106 games. He played 19 games for the Pirates in April, all as a pinch-hitter. At the end of August, Bowker was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he went 0-for-13 in 12 games, in what ended up being his final big league time. After being released in January of 2012, he signed to play in Japan, where he stayed until 2014. He was with the Pirates again in 2015, though he spent the year in Triple-A and retired after the season. Bowker hit .233 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 45 games for the Pirates. He hit .232 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs in 240 games.
Rosario Rodriguez, pitcher for the 1991 Pirates. He was a lefty reliever the Pirates acquired off waivers in December of 1990 from the Cincinnati Reds. Rodriguez signed with Cincinnati in 1987 as an amateur free agent out of Mexico, and he made the majors in 1989, shortly after his 20th birthday. It was a quick climb to the majors despite an average start at the lowest level. He had a 3.08 ERA in 64.1 innings, with 33 strikeouts, in the Gulf Coast League in 1987. He dominated in the South Atlantic League in 1988 in a long relief role (1.52 ERA in 65.1 innings), while posting a 3.99 ERA in the Midwest League as a starter. Both were A-Ball leagues at the time, back before the levels were split between High-A and Low-A (both leagues ended up in Low-A for the record). He moved up to Double-A as a reliever in 1989, and had a 4.47 ERA in 44.1 innings, before getting a September call to the majors. In 1990, he had a 4.81 ERA in the minors, seeing some Triple-A time, though most of his time was spent back in Double-A. He was in the majors again from mid-August until the end of the season, making nine appearances. In parts of two seasons with the Reds, he went 1-1, 5.52 in 14.2 innings over 16 relief appearances. After joining the Pirates, Rodriguez spent most of 1991 in Triple-A , where he made 48 relief appearances, pitching a total of 51 innings, with a 4-3, 3.00 record and 43 strikeouts. He was called up in late August and used often, making 18 appearances, with a 1-1, 4.11 record and six saves in 15.1 innings. Rodriguez pitched once in the postseason, allowing three runs in his only inning of work. He missed most of the 1992 season due to a shoulder injury, making just four relief appearances in Triple-A. He was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training in 1993, but he was an early cut (March 9th) and never pitched for the Pirates again. The team barely gave him a chance in Spring Training after he showed up significantly late due to visa issues for the third straight year, despite the fact that they took care of his visa early enough that he should have been on time. He arrived on February 28th, just nine days before being cut, with the team noting that he was on the verge of being released at the time because of his constant late arrivals. He started pitching in his home country of Mexico after being let go by the Pirates, and he last pitched pro ball in 2005, playing nine seasons over a 13-year time-frame.
Bob Kipper, pitcher for the 1985-91 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1982 of the California Angels, taken eighth overall out of high school in Illinois. The Angels sent him to short-season Salem of the Northwest League, where he went 6-5, 4.46 in 76.2 innings over 13 starts. He moved up to Peoria of the Midwest League in 1983, posting a 4.65 ERA in 127.2 innings. Kipper jumped to the California League in 1984 and had an incredible season, going 18-8, 2.04 in 185 innings. He reached the majors by age 20, making the Angels 1985 Opening Day roster, although he was sent back to the minors after just two appearances. On August 16, 1985, the Pirates acquired Kipper as the player to be named later in a six-player deal made two weeks earlier. After pitching five games for the 1985 Pirates, Kipper made the 1986 Opening Day roster. He made 19 starts, going 6-8, 4.03 in 114 innings. Both his win total and innings pitched that season would end up being his career highs. He started 20 times in 1987, while also making four relief appearances. He went 5-9, 5.94 in 110.2 innings, and he had the best outing of his career that year. On April 16th, he threw a four-hit shutout against the Cubs, striking out eight batters.
In 1988, Kipper was moved to the bullpen, a role he would fill for the next four seasons in Pittsburgh. He went 2-6, 3.74 in 65 innings over 50 appearances that first season as a reliever. In 1989, he had a career high 52 appearances, posting a 2.93 ERA with four saves in 83 innings. After finishing the 1990 season with a 5-2, 3.02 record and three saves in 41 games, he had a down year in 1991. He had his highest ERA (4.65) in the bullpen role, pitching 60 innings over 52 appearances. In the playoffs, Kipper pitched two innings in the game three loss to the Atlanta Braves, allowing one run. He didn’t make an appearance during the 1990 playoffs. He was released after the 1991 season and signed with the Minnesota Twins as a free agent. Kipper went 3-3, 4.42 in 38.2 innings over 25 appearances in 1992. He missed the entire 1993 season with a tear in his throwing shoulder, then attempted a comeback with the New York Mets in 1994 that lasted just seven games in Triple-A before he retired. With the Pirates, Kipper was 24-33, 4.22 in 520 innings over 244 games, 44 of those outings were as a starter.
John Powers, outfielder for the 1955-58 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1949, but just a year later he was acquired by the Pirates. Powers hit .303 his first season in 137 games, with 28 doubles, 12 triples, 17 homers, 87 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 76 walks and 109 runs scored. He played his first season in the Pittsburgh organization with Waco of the Big State League (Class-B), where he hit .311 with 39 homers and 135 RBIs in 144 games. Powers moved up a level to Charleston in 1951, batting .255 that year with 34 doubles and 17 homers in 139 games. He spent the next two seasons serving in the military, returning to baseball in 1954. He spent most of that first year back with New Orleans of the Southern Association, where he hit .265 with 23 homers in 106 games. He struggled at New Orleans in 1955 and spent part of the year down a level at Williamsport of the Eastern League (Class-A), where he put up much better stats. Despite the demotion, he was in the majors later that year as a September call-up, though he played just two games. Back in New Orleans for all of 1956, Powers hit .312 with 32 doubles, 12 triples, 39 homers, 116 RBIs and 80 walks. That led to another September recall and a little bit more playing time than he saw in 1955, though he went just 1-for-21 at the plate in 11 games.
Powers made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1957, but was sent down to the minors in May. He was called up again in September and finished with .286 average in 20 games. He finally spent the entire season in the majors in 1958, hitting .183 with two RBIs, both coming on solo homers. He played 57 games that year, though just 12 were as a starter, which limited him to 90 plate appearances all season. On January 30, 1959, the Pirates traded Powers and three other players to the Cincinnati Reds for Smoky Burgess, Harvey Haddix and Don Hoak. He played 43 games for the 1959 Reds, mostly off of the bench, hitting .256 in 43 at-bats. He then split the 1960 season between the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, before returning to the minors for five more years until his retirement. Powers batted .183 in 18 games during his final big league season. He was a .270 hitter in 1,534 minor league games, hitting 298 homers. He batted .190 with four homers in 90 games for the Pirates. He played 151 big league games and just 30 were as a starter.
Jay Parker, pitcher for the Pirates on September 27, 1899. In his Major League debut, Jay Parker started the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Orphans (Cubs) after the Pirates lost the opener game by a 4-1 score. Rookie pitcher Chummy Gray pitched a complete game in the first game and Parker was set to make his debut in the second game. Parker was so erratic against the first two batters he faced that he was pulled right away and Gray went in the finish the second game. Parker walked both batters and they both came around to score, leaving him with the “inf” designation for his ERA (stands for infinite). He avoided the loss when the game ended in a 7-7 tie. That turned out to be his only day with the Pirates. He was called a “well known local amateur” in one Chicago paper and another said that he was the “Auburn Park whirlwind”, who was only used because the Pirates were desperate for pitching. The umpire for that game was Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh pitcher Hank O’Day, who shares a birthday with Parker (see below).
Parker played nine seasons in the minors between 1895 and 1914, and managed a few seasons as well, but his Major League career was done after his one start, which was over almost as soon as it began. On September 9, 1899, eighteen days before his game with the Pirates, a local Chicago paper said that he signed with the New York Giants and was to report to the team immediately as an outfielder. His records during that minor league time show that he played all over the field, though his only known pitching records besides his game with the Pirates came during the 1905 season for Evansville of the Central League, and that was just two games. In his final season of pro ball, he was the first baseman/manager for a team from Cadillac Michigan in the Michigan State League. It was a Class-D club, lowest level of the minors, and he batted .293 in 61 games. His brother Harley “Doc” Parker was a pitcher in the majors for four partial season. Doc’s last start was almost as bad as his brother’s only game. On June 21, 1901, he threw a complete game for the Cincinnati Reds against the Brooklyn Superbas, giving up 21 runs on 26 hits, while facing 51 batters without a strikeout.
Harry Gilbert, second baseman for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on June 23, 1890. The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys were the worst team in franchise history and that led to some interesting stats and happenings during that season. One such instance was Harry Gilbert, a semi-pro player from Pottsville, Pa. manning second base alongside his double play partner and older brother, John Gilbert. Neither had played in the majors prior to June 23, 1890 and neither would play in the majors after that day either. The Alleghenys had a doubleheader that day against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Gilberts played both games. The Phillies won the opener 11-0, but Pittsburgh took the second game by a 12-8 score, just their 13th win of the season. Harry Gilbert went 2-for-8 at the plate, with two singles and one run scored. Both he and his brother played flawless defense that day, each turning one double play. Harry was listed in multiple boxscores as “N. Gilbert”, which was for his nickname “Nan”. The local Pottsville fans were worried about losing Harry Gilbert to a professional team because he was playing so well and it would be hard to replace him. Their worries were relieved when two days after his big league debut, the 21-year-old Harry Gilbert was back in the Pottsville lineup, batting second behind his brother. The day after the Pirates used the Gilberts, they tried another local kid at shortstop named Fred Clement. His trial lasted just two innings before he was removed due to poor play.
Hank O’Day, pitcher for the 1885 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. As a rookie for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884, O’Day pitched 326.1 innings, making 40 starts, while losing 28 games. The team had two main starters work all but four of the team’s games, back when pitchers were workhorses or someone else took their job. O’Day’s 9-28 record appears to signal that he played for a bad team, but the team’s other pitcher, Tony Mullane (who should be in the Hall of Fame), posted a 36-26 record. In 1885, the Toledo franchise folded and O’Day hooked on with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He was the team’s second starter behind Ed “Cannonball” Morris. O’Day lost five straight games to open the season, while Morris won five of his six starts. O’Day got plenty of run support from his teammates over the next six games and they won five of them, scoring a total of 64 runs. He made just one more star t(an 8-0 loss), before the Alleghenys released him. He finished the year in the minors, pitching for Washington of the Eastern League. The next season O’Day won 26 games in the minors, earning a spot in the National League with Washington. He went 2-2, 1.65 in six starts, then made 76 starts over the next two seasons. He lost a total of 49 games during the 1887-88 seasons, playing for a team that went 94-162 over that time. He led the National League with 29 losses in 1888, despite a 3.10 ERA. O’Day’s 1889 season shows just how bad Washington was at the time. He went 2-10, 4.33 in 13 starts, then joined the New York Giants and went 9-1, 4.27 in ten starts. A difference of .06 in his ERA resulted in a difference of .733 in his winning percentage. In his last season in the majors (1890), he went 22-13, 4.21 in 329 innings for New York of the Player’s League. O’Day pitched in the minors during the 1891-93 seasons before retiring as a player. His final career totals were 73-110, 3.74 in 1,651.1 innings, with 177 complete games in 192 starts. He had a seven-year career as a pitcher in the majors, but he made his name in baseball history as an umpire. He umpired in parts of 35 seasons in the majors, beginning in 1895, and the Veteran’s Committee recognized his accomplishments in 2013 when they voted him into the Hall of Fame. O’Day was an umpire in ten different World Series, including the 1903 series that involved the Pirates. He also managed for two seasons in the majors, finishing fourth with both the 1912 Cincinnati Reds and 1914 Chicago Cubs.